More on the whole butcher shop thing.

To show you the lengths I will go, here is a link to "my" butcher shop:

http://www.jimmypsbutchershop.com/

If you look carefully, you'll see it is WAY THE HELL across the state*. It is, in fact, an easy 90 minute drive, on a quiet stretch of interstate, with nary a curve and, entre nous, the 90 min. drive usually winds up being ~60-75 minutes.

Anyway, this is one of the few full-service butcher shops around and it's easily the very best one in FL. Given the distance, I can't feasibly get there every week, but since I have business in that part of FL, I can get there once a month. I usually take a cooler and, at the Walgreen's just two doors down, I load up on ice. I normally grab something fancy-schmancy (but quick) for dinner that night and a few other things which Jim P. or Jimmy P. will vacuum pack. This way the beef (or lamb) can "wet age" without problems** and keep for a good while. They will also ship, but I far prefer to pick and choose the specific bits and pieces I get. Also, they will often have specials not featured on the website.

Having said THAT, their Kobe beef is a steal. Especially if you get the less pressworthy cuts. Whenever they have any available, I like their Kobe "London Broil" shaved thin for carpaccio. Their Kobe Top Sirloin (at a manageable $12/lb) makes a killer roast beef***, and their Kobe NY Strip is awesome (but $40/lb. is still expensive even if the going rate, say at Allen Brothers in Chicago, is around $116/lb. OUCH!) and finally, their whole Kobe beef tenderloin is glorious and a "bargain" (compared to the going rate--Allen Brothers is $175/lb!--it's practically free) at only $45/lb. Naturally, at these prices, Kobe Tenderloin & NY Strips are in the "blue moon" category, but their London Broil ($9/lb.) and the Top Sirloin are quite manageable in an "every once in a while" way, and not at an outrageous premium over comparable supermarket offerings and pretty much the same as "regular" prime beef (to which it is superior in every regard).

Jimmy P's also has the usual USDA Prime, and a lot of "varietals" (assorted breeds o' cow--Hereford, Charolais, etc.--the relative merits of which I haven't yet researched) including Argentine beef which is a whole different thing, seeing as how it's grass-fed and pastures freely, as opposed to the usual penned in, corn-fed US stuff. They even make their own hot dogs with a real casing which is indispensable in making a hot dog edible, IMCO. Anyway, when I go there it's for something special-ish, otherwise I go to a local independent market's butcher department for more everyday (but still excellent) stuff, such as Niman Ranch or Bell & Evans poultry. It's not as idyllic as the Naples place, but it would still be an unalloyed delight were it my only option.

The point is that if you live anywhere near a medium-sized (or larger) city, you HAVE such a butcher shop nearby. You should throw them your business. If you don't, eventually you will have your choices whittled down to whatever XYZ MegaMarket Inc.'s cow-extruding facility in Marmot Teat, WI can profitably crank out in a "case ready" (i.e. plastic-wrapped preportioned) format. We will lose artisans, we will lose a whole host of great recipes from great cuisines, we will lose the ability to make specific requests, we will lose the advice and advocacy and experience of said artisans, and what few high end places survive will charge an arm and a leg--and possibly a firstborn--for even the most pedestrian offerings to those seeking out edibles that actually taste like something.

Soapbox off,

-J.

* OK, so it's a narrow state.
** In the case of a roast, I like to give it some dry-age time of my own, usually 4 days in the fridge.
*** Remind me to post the recipe, which works beautifully with "regular" beef.

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